Home Island Presentation 13th September 2017
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Island Presentation

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The Flora of Miquelon

“This english translated version is made available for those who cannot read French. Translating from your own language into a foreign language is not an easy task, the translator is quite aware of its limitation and will welcome any suggestions. Thanks.”

Soon after the re-colonisation of our islands by the french in 1816 and in that very year and in 1819, the naturalist-botanist Jean-Marie Bachelot de la Pylaie explored our islands. In 1866/67 was published in a local newspaper the thesis of Alphonse Gautier “Quelques mots sur l’histoire naturelle et de la metéorologie de Saint-Pierre and Miquelon” (a few words on the natural history and weather). Then, and more precisely in the island of Miquelon, the medical doctor Ernest-Amédée Delamare (between 1866 and 1888) was in contact with two French bryologists (Renault and Cardot). He has explored the island of Miquelon and the island of Langlade and published with these two bryologists “Florule de l’île de Miquelon” It is brother Louis-Arsène who published in Rhodora (New-England Botanical publication) the most interesting study of our flora in 1927. Then in 1908 M. Mathurin Le Hors arrived in our islands, and up to his death in 1952 he explored our islands, often with the priest Casimir Le Gallo (between 1935 and 1946). Their studies allowed brother Louis-Arsène to publish and addition of 150 species to the local flora, again in Rhodora, in 1947). Recently, only Daniel Abraham and Roger Etcheberry have studied our flora and discovered a few interesting native species. You could find at the following address the bibliography of the various botanists : http://www.grandcolombier.com/2003-bibliotheque/biblio/search.php

The habitats and the flora

Our climate, rather wet and cold, is favourable to the formation of peat bogs, the most common habitat in our islands. We have probably more peat bogs here than in the rest of the French territories. It is interesting to point out that we have 30 species of Sphagnum mosses out of 50 in the whole North America. The Sedge family is the most important one with about 70 species of Carex and about 20 other species. In this habitat grow as well most of our carnivorous plants : pitcher plant (provincial plant of neighbouring Newfoundland), sundews, bladderworts and most of our 21 species of orchids.

Our little forests dominated by evergreens (balsam fir, spruces and tamarack) are mostly present in well drained slopes and on river banks. We also find Serviceberries, Alders, Birches, Cherries, Dogwood, Hollies, Mountain-ashes, Arrow-wood. Numerous ferns and flowering plants are present on the undergrowth.

 

Romain Hodapp a French student wrote about our little forests in 2003 : “This little French place in North America is part of the north-American boreal forest . This habitat is unique in all the French territories and should be respected, it is the only French boreal forest”. The heath is present on all hill slopes and other exposed and relatively dry land. The most common species being : Crowberry, Leatherleaf, Laurels, Blueberries, Rhodora, Labrador tea and Lady’s slipper. Wet meadows and rivers banks harbour a particular flora with a few orchids, numerous grasses, violets, meadow-Rue etc. …

 

The isthmus of Langlade with its sand dunes and its ponds, the natural causeways with brackish ponds and lakes, harbour another kind of vegetation with Beach grass, Lyme-grass, Marsh-grass, Roses, Beach pea on dry land ; Sand-Spurrey, Water-Milfoil, Pondweeds on brackish waters and around the lagoon. The most important plant for the ducks and geese, the Eel grass, grows profusely on the bottom of the salt lagoon.

The low coasts, dominant on the island of Miquelon and on the isthmus, have a few salt-loving plants like Goosefoot, Sea Mertensia, Sandwort, Sea-rocket etc.

The Cape of Miquelon has a few species growing mostly there in our islands : Roseroot, Moss Campion and Carex scirpoidea.

So, our flora consists of about 600 vascular plants of which about 500 are native and about 100 introduced. We also have 177 species of mosses (including the 30 species of Sphagnum mentioned above) and several hundred species of lichens. We are too close to Newfoundland (20 km) to have some endemic species, however, some boreal or arctic-alpine species are probably unique to the French territories.





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